When you decide you need to lose weight, setting goals is one of the most important things you can do. This becomes even more important after menopause when weight loss becomes even harder than it was before. Without a plan, you are not likely to take the action you need. But the goal should not be something like “I want to lose some weight”. Here are the steps to take to set a goal you can reach.
Do you need to lose weight?
I understand that many women want to lose weight, but many women who are not overweight just want to get rid of the belly they have developed during menopause. Weight loss might not be necessary or desirable in this case. Small frame, low body weight women are at a higher risk for osteoporosis and for frailty as they age.
Body mass index or BMI is not a perfect indication of healthy body size because it does not take into account how much muscle you have, but it is a good starting point. In your 50s a BMI of 20-25 is considered healthy, but as you get older it should be higher. Body mass is calculated as (weight in kg)/(height in meters)x(height in meters). You can find a simple calculator here. If you are overweight by this calculator then go on to the next step.
Why do you want to lose weight?
This is an important step. Maybe its for health reasons, so you look better, or so you don’t feel tired all the time. There is no wrong answer to this question, but your goal will become more meaningful if you understand why you want it.
Keep it realistic
Quick fixes don’t work when it comes to weight loss. You may see a rapid weight loss at the beginning depending on the type of eating plan you choose. But don’t plan on this and don’t get discouraged. 1-2 lbs per week is a healthy and sustainable amount of weight to lose. More than this and you will likely lose muscle because your body is feeding off of it self. A rapid weight loss plan with very low calorie intake is not sustainable and should only be done with medical supervision.
Concentrate on the process
Instead of being fixated on a number that you don’t have much control over, focus on the things that you can control. Try to not worry about your weight, but pick a goal (maybe eating a healthy breakfast every day for 2 weeks) and focus on that. You can even reward yourself after meeting your goal. Just make sure it is not a food based reward.
What is the time frame?
You also want to be realistic about the time frame. If you think about a healthy weight loss of 1-2 lbs per week, 20 lbs will take 3-4 months of consistent effort. If you concentrate on the short term process goals you will feel much more successful.
How often should you weigh yourself
Once you have set a goal you will want to weigh yourself to track your progress. I have had clients who insisted they didn’t want to know the number on the scale. The problem with this, is that you don’t know if the changes you are making are working.
If you are peri menopausal, then your hormones are probably fluctuating like crazy. This can mean your weight is also fluctuating just as much. If you weight yourself every day, you might get discouraged by these fluctuations, so look at the trend instead. Weighing yourself every week or so doesn’t help much because you might hit a low day one week and a high day the next. This might cause you to think that you have made no progress.
If you are post menopausal, your weight fluctuations should be less, as there are fewer hormonal fluctuations. In both cases you might want to avoid weighing yourself the day after a big meal or a salty meal, that might cause water retention, or temporary weight gain.
Weight loss is challenging for menopausal women. By following the steps above to set and track your goal, you will have more success. If you are looking for more help with weight loss download this free guide.